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HOW TO LANDSCAPE YOUR FRONT YARD SO YOUR NEIGHBOURS ARE GREEN WITH ENVY

Everyone wants a front yard that is beautifully landscaped and low-maintenance. At least, everyone I talk to does. They want an entrance that turns heads and a front yard that makes neighbours ask “How did she do that?” and “How can I do that?”

If you’re dreaming of creating a front yard landscape this spring or summer, there are some important things to consider to ensure your space looks eye-catching (for the right reasons). These are things that will help keep your front yard, house foundation, and entrance looking beautiful from day one to several years down the road. 

Are you ready to learn some simple, easy tips to make your neighbours green with envy? Let’s get into it. 

A front landscape of stones, shrubs, and flowers in front of a beige two-story house with a red door.

WHAT ARE THE BEST FLOWERS TO PLANT IN MY FRONT YARD?

First, you want to consider why you’re planting. Do you just want something pretty to look at? Do you want something low-maintenance that takes care of itself? Are you a bright colours person or are you more into grasses and greenery? 

For a consistently jaw-dropping front yard landscape, you’ll want to plant dependable perennials that come back year after year. Watch out, though, as many perennials don’t grow to full size for about 3-5 years. If you want to put the extra work in, however, and are interested in switching up your colour palette year after year, I would suggest planting annuals. Whichever you pick, or even if it’s a combination of both, always take into account the full size your plants will grow to and space your flowers appropriately. 

If you’re less particular about colour and simply want plants that take care of themselves, consider native plants. They require less maintenance post-planting than ornamental plants and are an exciting opportunity to learn more about where you live!

Close-up of a front landscape of red and pink flowers and greenery with a large tree trunk at the front right and a cream and brown house behind.

Want even more perennial suggestions for Zone 3? 53 Favourite Perennials to Plant in Zone 3 

For more about planning and designing the best flower beds: How to Plan & Design a Low Maintenance Flower Bed 

THE PERKS OF BUYING LOCAL 

If you’re deciding between buying from big box stores or local greenhouses, consider these points when designing your front of house. Big box stores don’t always bring in plants that are good for your climate, especially if you are in a more northern growing zone (Zone 2 and Zone 3 in Canada, for example). Though this might not be as significant of a problem in southern growing zones, buying local allows for a more personal shopping experience with workers who genuinely care about plants and gardeners.

Big box stores don’t necessarily test plants for heartiness and often have less impressive customer service. If you can afford it, contributing to your local economy and making connections in your home city or town is a great place to start when landscaping your front yard. Especially if you are a repeat shopper and you want to grow relationships with other plant-lovers and enthusiasts where you live, I always recommend buying local.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO CONSIDER WHEN PREPARING THE GROUND FOR LANDSCAPING? 

If you’re planting trees, shrubs, or anything else where you need to dig deep into the earth, make sure to call your power and cable companies to mark lines before you take your planning too far. Workers can usually be there within two weeks or less and this is the safest place to start when planning any big landscaping projects.

If you’re planning to grow plants close to your house foundation, mulch is a beautiful addition to your front landscaping. If you’re going to use mulch, make sure to cover your landscaping fabric or wet cardboard with at least four inches. This helps keep those pesky weeds at bay! Spending the money on high-quality mulch is never a bad idea. Plus, it comes in a variety of shades and colours, like black, grey, and brick red, and adds an extra level of elegance to any front-of-house landscaping project. 

And don’t forget, if you’re digging up spaces near the foundation of your house, proper land grading is extremely important. Always make sure the ground slopes away from the house instead of toward the house to avoid water damage issues and to keep your front landscape looking its best.

SHOULD I DRAW MY IDEAS OUT ON PAPER?

Yes! One-hundred percent yes! Trying to visualize what the final version of your front yard will look like can be difficult for beginner and experienced landscapers alike. It’s good to take out a pencil and paper and let your imagination run wild. Drawing out your plan in pencil allows you to make changes and experiment before spending oodles of money. Write out a shopping list of plants and flowers, create a budget that works best for you, and draw up your dream landscape on paper before making any commitments. If you’re looking for a convenient place to store all of your ideas, you can download my free garden planner below. If you’re a more serious gardener in general or feel you need a few more bells and whistles, you might want to upgrade to this paid planner instead.

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HOW FAR APART SHOULD I PLANT MY TREES, SHRUBS, AND FLOWERS? 

When planting trees for your front yard landscape, don’t forget to consider the size they’ll be several years from now. If you’re growing cedars, for instance, they can get quite unwieldy if you don’t trim them once a year. Make sure to space all plants based on their maximum size and to distance them from your house and each other accordingly. There is always a suggested distance on tree and shrub tags to help you as you plan out your front yard landscape. These are helpful, especially for beginners who might not be familiar with how large their plants will get. It’s ok if your shrubs and trees look quite far apart when you first plant them. They will fill in in time, and I would always rather have my plants a little too far apart than overcrowded and unmanageable.

As a general rule, keep your shrubs a minimum of four feet from the house (or more). The bigger the tree, the farther it should be. Tree roots are invasive and can cause significant issues with indoor plumbing that can recur yearly if you’re not careful. When in doubt, plant your trees even farther from the house to avoid any extra expense down the road.

Green shrubs, bleeding hearts, and violet, white, and pink flowers alongside a redwood deck with a cream and brown house behind.

HOW CAN I ENSURE THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF SUN AND SHADE? 

There are a few things to consider when choosing where to place your plants. Keep in mind the amount of sun and shade required for the plants to grow their best. As well, don’t forget that taller trees make more shade and can block windows. Especially if you have house plants or prefer natural light inside your home, you’ll want to consider the height of your trees and shrubs before planting them too close to large windows. You will also want to consider the amount of shade a tree can cast on flowers and plants growing beneath it. 

If you have a lot of shade, check out these flowers: 17 Perennial Flowers That Love Shade 

Growing plants under trees? 32 Flowers, Groundcover, and Shrubs that Grow Under Trees, How to Design a Perennial Garden Underneath a Tree 

If you’re already dreaming about landscaping your front yard this spring or summer, I hope these quick tips help you consider what to do to keep your plants healthy and beautiful throughout the years. For even more help choosing the perennials best for your yard, check out my Constant Colour Garden Guide

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Grow roots with us

Kristen

Welcome!

Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!